Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Swim Clinic Time Change

This month's swim clinic at Augustana College on Sunday, March 4th has been changed to 11:00 a.m. The clinic has grown so much we are expanding into extra lanes and need to do so when the entire pool is available which will be 11:00. The cost of the monthly clinic is $30.00. 2-3 coaches will be on hand to watch you swim, analyze your technique, give you immediate stroke feedback, show you drills, put you through a short hard set, and give you workouts to complete over the next month if you desire. I've been excited with the progress I've made swimming and even more exciting to me is watching the improvements these other guys and girls at the clinic have made. We have had over 25 different people attend the clinic. New attendees are certainly still welcome and the coaches review the old drills every month. We have all abilities at the clinic from people just learning to swim to people who swim very competitively. If you are worried...know you will fit in!! If you want more information e-mail me and if I can't answer your questions I'll get you coach Stacey Zapolski's e-mail address.

Speaking of excitement...beginning this Sunday all attendees at the swim clinic will be entered in a raffle sponsored by Xterra Wetsuits. From the March-June clinic every time someone attends they will be entered into the Xterra Sweepstakes. At the June clinic we will draw 1 lucky winner of an Xterra Wetsuit and 4 winners of triathlon gear bags. Check out those products and more at http://www.xterrawetsuits.com/ If you can't wait to purchase an Xterra Wetsuit feel free to use discount code SA-JPAUL to save 55%!! Hope to see you at the pool on Sunday! DREAM BIG!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Week 9...Fight One More Round

Week 9 did not go quite as I planned. I had planned to back down the volume this week but focus more on quality workouts. I fill out weekly goals at the start of every week. For this week I put down a goal of 18,000 swim yards, 100 bike miles, and 40 running miles. I also have my checklist of weekly goals such as weight lifting, core work, running drills, strides, push-ups, lunges, and plymetrics. Most weeks I am able to check off every single goal. I take those goals seriously and try to accomplish them all every week. This week I swam 22,000 yards...check, I biked 120 miles...check, I ran 31 miles...crap! I also only lifted weights once and only got plyometrics in once. Everything else I hit. I struggled with motivation this week which I think is related to a lack of sleep. Owen was up sick twice in the middle of the night and that had an impact on my sleep. Wednesday I could not get myself to do my usual mid-week running interval workout. I missed 9 miles including the intervals and that was the difference on my running goals. I did have a great week of swimming once again. I'm realizing how much better I am than I was last year. On Thursday my swim workout called for 5,400 yards. I got to the pool tired and unmotivated. I did my warm up and drill set and my arms felt like logs. I had already logged two 5,000 yard workouts prior to this one. I had to decide what to do. Last summer when I felt tired like this I chose to get out of the pool. This happened nearly once a week. On Thursday I told myself to start the main set (the hard stuff) of the workout and stick with it as long as I could hit the times. If I ever missed my interval time I would switch to drill work or get out of the pool. I began with 10x50's on 50 and I was coming in at 41-42 seconds feeling terrible. This was slow swimming and I was just not feeling it. After the 50's I went right into 3x300's on 4:30. My first one I came in at 4:19 which would only give me 11 seconds rest. I knew things were not going well but I told myself to "fight one more round" to see if I could hit #2. It was especially hard knowing that I ended my main set with a 300 in 3:57 on Tuesday and I was swimming so much slower Thursday. I am very up and down in the pool. On #2 I came in at 4:18...still hanging in there but not great...live to fight one more round. #3 I came in at 4:16 so I got 14 seconds rest...a little better and I was now going to shorter stuff. From the 300's I went right into the next part of the set (3x200's on 3:00). I knew if I didn't pick it up I'd be getting less than 10 seconds rest. I came in my first one in 2:46 which was about 5 seconds faster than I expected...maybe I am going to make it through this set. #2 I came in at 2:44...one more round. #3 I came in at 2:43 and I was starting to get excited because 2:43 was a time that I rarely hit 4 weeks ago. From the 200's I went right into 3x100's on 1:30. #1 I hit in 1:19 and I realized I was going to make the set. #2 I hit 1:18...and #3 I finished off the main set with a 1:16. It was a great learning experience for me. Although I felt tired throughout the entire workout I realized with the technique improvements I've made I could stay in the water...fight one more round and make it through the workout. It was a great feeling to know I overcame the self doubt that I had going into the workout.
Friday was my first day off in 9 weeks of training. Once again I was tired. I did do something active at least by shoveling the driveway, doing lunges, and jump rope. I still will count it as a complete day of rest. I went to bed early knowing I would be working out with Adam Bohach on Saturday morning. I was in Clinton by 8:00 am and we rode 2 hours together on the trainer. After the ride we did a 1 hour run in which we covered over 9 miles. My hamstrings were not feeling well for the first time in 6 or 7 weeks. They were super tight much like they were late in the summer. I couldn't decide if it was from taking Friday off or switching to new shoes this week. Either way I was frustrated when I woke up Sunday with extremely tight hamstrings. I was supposed to race a 4 mile Chili Chase in Davenport to get one hard running workout in this week. I was undecided if I should race. I warmed up and they were tight but I noticed it didn't seem to effect my stride at all and I really don't notice them once I get going. It's just the first few steps and when I bend over to touch my toes that I feel the extreme tightness. I decided I would run the first mile pretty hard and then assess the situation. I went through mile 1 in 5:20. I was in 4th with 3 studs well ahead up the road. The hamstings were not an issue at all so I picked up the pace in mile 2 going through 2 in 5:05 for a time of 10:25. I started thinking I could maybe break 21:00 but knew I was at the lowest point in the course and would have to climb back up a big hill in the last mile running into the wind. I went through mile 3 in 15:45 but started slowing down when with the last 1/2 mile being uphill. I finished up in 21:15. I was really pleased with this effort. I did a swim workout before the run and 2 years ago I ran this hard when I was 7 lbs. lighter and I was 16 seconds slower that year than this one. I keep reminding myself it is still February and it's okay to rest when I feel like my body needs it. My big races do not get going until July so I have over 5 months still to get ready for them. I should not be in a hurry right now. It was great seeing over 350 people out at the Chili Chase. I really think fitness and health are a growing priority in the Quad Cities. I think Live Uncommon has been a big reason for this. My wife Jen won the women's race today running 24:20. She treated it as a workout run and opted not to wear her race flats. She had a great week running more miles than I did at 40. She is really excited to race the Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago next month where she'll get plenty of great competition. My brother Justin continued to drop time as fast as he drops weight by running just over 32:00 for the 4 mile course today.
This week I'll be back to high volume and I will make it a priority not to miss any of my goals since the idea is to pour on the volume as opposed to letting my body adapt as was the goal this week. We have our monthly swim clinic at Augustana next Sunday at 1:00. The clinic has grown at a tremendous rate. The cost of the monthly clinic is $30.00. At the clinic the coaches give immediate technique feedback, review old drills, show new ones, and guide us through a short hard set. They also provide a list of workouts you can complete over the next month if you are looking for some swim workout guidance. I have some exciting news about the clinic. Xterra Wetsuits has agreed to send some awesome prizes including a wetsuit that will be raffled away at the June clinic. From now until June every time someone attends the clinic they will be entered in the raffle. The more times someone attends, the more chances they have to win. In June we will draw winners of all the awesome products donated by Xterra. Have an awesome week of workouts...when you don't feel the greatest fight one more round. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Week 8 Training Summary

8 weeks in...9 to go until my first triathlon of 2012. I'm really excited with the direction things are going right now. This was my biggest training week yet this year at 27 hours. I ran 60 miles, biked 170, and swam 21,800 yards. I also lifted weights and did plyometrics twice, speed drills, strides, push-ups, and lunges all three times, and core work 13 times. My weight has continued to drop and I'm inching closer to my race weight. I weighed in this week at 155 lbs. which is 4 lbs. more than the lowest number I saw throughout the entire 2011 season. I saw 179 on the scale on New Year's Eve so I've cut that down rather quickly. My younger brother Josh has organized a weight loss competition for 26 individuals that have lost a total of nearly 400 lbs. since the New Year began. It's pretty amazing. My older brother Justin has gone from 280 lbs. down to 246 and he looks awesome!
My biggest change in training this year has been more of a focus on swimming. I don't know if the additional yardage and workouts will leave me faster or not this summer but I'm trusting it will make a big difference. I learned in my first year of professional racing about the dynamics of the pro races. Typically after the swim the riders will stagger 10 meters behind one another and the weaker riders will get pulled along in this manner. It is impossible to take advantage of those dynamics if you are the last one out of the water...hence my increase in swimming. Through 8 weeks of training I have surpassed 15,000 yards every week. Last year I didn't get my 8th week at that yardage until the beginning of July. The days when I would show up to the pool and be in and out within an hour are gone. I'm now in the pool for anywhere between 90 minutes and 1 hr. 45 minutes. I swim 4 days every week and when I can get a bonus 5th swim in I do. This week I got my bonus today because we didn't have school and Monday isn't one of my scheduled swim days. I also think I'll be able to get in the water on Friday so I'll have 6 days of swimming this week. For most triathletes I would recommend spending the majority of the time on the bike and run because the swim is the shortest aspect of a triathlon. Due to what I learned about racing professionally last year however I'm making a committment to becoming a stronger swimmer. I've been fortunate to have help from Stacy Zapolski and Tara Christensen who lead another great swim clinic this week where we met 3 new members. It's been super fun for me to watch this clinic grow. We'll be back for another session at Augustana's pool in 2 weeks.
I've been contemplating my own training schedule lately. I like to increase the volume but when I do the quality of the workouts suffers a bit. My track workout at Augustana on Wednesday did not go well. My legs were too tired to get a 2nd bike interval workout on the weekend so I did more base mileage pace. I got in shape quickly the first 4 weeks when my volume wasn't high but my quality was. I'm going to start alternating quality weeks with quantity weeks as a bit of an experiment. This week I will eliminate all the "junk" miles as some would call them and focus on getting 3 really hard bike workouts and 2 really quality running ones. My overall volume will be down but I know I gain a lot from the quality. I don't consider any miles "junk" until I'm at my race weight. Until then every mile helps me get closer to that weight and I still believe firmly the #1 factor for me to race my best is to get my body lean. Dr. Kaminski from Kaminski Pain and Performance Care has a new high tech body composition machine that we will use to monitor where I'm at. Before I began training I had a baseline test and my body fat % was 18 which is incredibly high. If I would guess I would say I'm around 11% now but I'll let the machine tell me every few weeks from here on out. I'd like to get to about 8% before I really feel comfortable about my chances of racing my best.
The weather is starting to turn and within a couple months I will be on the open water swimming in my Xterra wetsuit. If you haven't gotten your wetsuit yet for 2012 you are welcome to use my pro discount code of SA-JPAUL and you will save about 63% off the retail price I believe. Xterra can offer the best prices in the industry because they sell directly...in other words you will not find the suit at a "middle man"...retail store. The Xterra website is at www.xterrawetsuits.com If you aren't sure what suit is best for you don't hesitate to contact me and I can help recommend one based on the races you plan to do this year. I hope you are working hard towards your fitness goals. Keep using every week and every day as a chance to get better. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Story...Live Uncommon

In January of 2008 I climbed off the scale after seeing my highest number ever...202. The pictures to come show the proof of my gradual weight gain. Since graduating from college and ending my competitive running at 148 back in 2002 I had slowly (or sometimes rapidly) let the weight pile on. In 2008 I was teaching full-time and coaching year round 3 varsity sports. I had 2 weeks during the school year when I wasn't coaching...1 week between cross country and basketball and another week after the state track meet before school let out for the summer. I was so busy teaching and coaching I used it as an excuse to let my health falter. I distinctly remember running across the school parking lot on a cold January day in 2008 and by the time I got to my car I was completely out of breath and my heart rate was sky high. It must have been a couple months before that when I tried to run the Turkey Trot with Jen but couldn't stay with her. My lower back hurt so bad from all the weight I was carrying on my stomach I had to stop and walk during the race. I had always enjoyed spending my time in the summer training and racing in triathlons. I could typically place in my age group by the end of the summer but always started the summer in such bad shape it would take the entire summer before I started to round into shape. I would get my weight down to 175 and the results would begin to come. In 2008 I was contemplating not even racing. Payton was born on June 1 that summer and I had the excuse that I would be too busy with a newborn in the house. That is when I met Stephan Marsh. Stephan was a recent University of Iowa grad who was home for the summer preparing to embark on a journey through law school. He had gotten hooked on the sport of triathlon and wanted me to train with him. At first I explained how bad of shape I was in and told him I didn't think I was going to race that summer. Stephan told me he didn't care if I raced or not but he encouraged me to train with him. When I met Stephan for our first bike ride he told me we were going to ride 50 miles. 50 miles!!! I thought he was crazy. I was fat and in terrible shape but I did the ride with him and when I was done I had a sense of accomplishment. I had done something I didn't think I could ever do. I remember meeting him at the track not long after that and I had to stop the workout because I was hurting so bad. As I trained more with Stephan I began to lose weight. 185...180...175...and finally 172 before the Chicago Triathlon where I completed the Olympic Distance race in 2 hrs. 5 minutes. I began to set goals for myself. I saw HUGE improvements in my racing that summer while working out with Stephan. I won a couple small races near my home town and I realized my improvements in health had lead to a new higher self-esteem. I was no longer embarrassed with my physique and my health. The wheels in my head started turning...what if I didn't get fat through the school year...what if I worked out every day like I was in the summer...what if I stopped coaching year round and instead went all in focusing on my own health? The more I thought about this the more I wanted to see if I could do it. I began looking up professional triathlon results. I began looking at pro triathletes' websites. I started to wonder if I could compete with them if I went all in and made some tremendous committments to a healthy lifestyle. At the time I was 28. I knew that I had many years to coach high school sports but my window of opportunity to see how good I could be in the sport of triathlon was not nearly as big. I wanted to do it. The more I thought about it the more fixated with the idea of trying this I became. I went to the arsenal late in the summer of 2008 to meet with Jen for lunch. I was giddy. She had no idea what I had been thinking for the past couple weeks. While eating lunch I asked her what she thought and she encouraged me to go for it...and the Big Dreams were born. I still had to coach my final season of cross country in 2008 and I decided I would begin my big committment to training the Monday after the state meet. I still remember the date...November 3rd.
By the following October I had my weight down to 162 and I won the Longhorn 70.3 amateur race and earned the right to race professionally. My goal all year had been to earn that right. I knew I would have to have a new goal for myself. There were many people that doubted I could actually compete at the professional level. I set a goal of proving to myself that I could! That goal was put on hold when achilles tendon surgery ended my 2010 season. My pro debut would have to wait until March of 2011 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I placed 20th of 22 pro finishers...hardly grounds for proving anything. In May I had another crack...this time at Ironman St. George. I had all kinds of mechanical problems on the bike and my day ended when I crashed at mile 108 of the bike...still no proof. I began to wonder if I really belonged. I worked harder than ever. On July 17th I raced a 1/2 Ironman in Racine, Wisconsin and placed 6th out of 18 pros...finishing as the 2nd American across the line and missing a pro paycheck by 1 minute. I belong! I had run my way from 11th to 6th and knew as I ran in the last couple hundred yards this was proof to myself I can compete with the best. The feeling was awesome.
My goals have changed once again. I still want to become the best triathlete I can be. I'm more hungry than ever to earn a pro award (which is a paycheck). This however is not my biggest nor most important goal any more. My bigger goals now are to inspire people to DREAM BIG...inspire ordinary people with full-time careers and families to make time for physical fitness...inspire them to set goals no matter how big or small they may be. In many ways I was inspired by the kids I coached. Kids like Charlie Paul who couldn't even make the Fresh/Soph top 7 his freshman year and he later finished 3rd in the state 3200. This weekend Charlie ran a 14:23 5k at Iowa State where he has continued to amaze and inspire me. There were countless other kids I coached who showed me what can happen when you take a chance at being great. I have realized that my own story can do this. The further I go and the more I improve can have an impact on people I've never met. The odds are stacked against me. I'm in an extreme minority of professional triathletes in the fact that I'm married, have 2 awesome children, and teach full-time. I don't want to be good at just one of those...I want to be great in every one of those aspects. I want to be a great husband to Jen, want to be a super-dad for my kids, want to be the best history teacher my students have ever had. I want to be the best triathlete I can possibly be and I want to prove all these things can be done simultaneously! Like I said, the odds of the triathlon part are low...but I've never been one to care much for odds. There's a reason games are played and races are run. I want to defy the odds...to do something most would say is impossible! The most fulfilling thing of this entire journey is when I meet people at races that tell me they follow my blog and it has inspired them to work out or do their first triathlon or even 5k. It makes me realize the impact my own story can have on others. It can be done. No goal is too big...set the bar high and work for it. Have patience because there will be obstacles...my surgery comes to mind. Believe that it can happen...then picture yourself doing it...picture how great it feels. One thing I learned from the book Psychology of Winning is that the body can't differentiate between mental imagery and physical doing. When you picture yourself doing something there's a much greater chance it will be accomplished when the actual day comes. The mental preparation is like the rehearsal.
Live Uncommon is a non-profit organization born in the Quad Cities that seeks to inspire busy people to live healthy and active. We have a great start going. I now see students in my Jr. High wearing Live Uncommon and living out the goals of the movement. I see people in the community running on the bike path in Live Uncommon shirts. It's awesome to bring awareness to physical fitness and health...especially awareness to young people. It is scary when I walk into a classroom and 1 in 3 of our adolescents is at risk of obesity. The age of technology has given people more excuses why not to be fit. Together we can change this. Together we can inspire. Together we can Live Uncommon. Check out the awesome website at www.liveuncommon.org Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Week 6 Training Summary

Week 6 was about as relaxing of a week as I will get in 2012 outside of a taper week before my biggest races. I planned to take a recovery week after building up volume for 5 consecutive weeks to begin the 2012 campaign. For the week my total training time was only 15.5 hours. I ran 23 miles, biked 110 miles, and swam 15,200 yards. I also lifted weights and did plyometrics once, speed drills, strides, and push-ups all three times, lunges twice, and core work 7 times.
I had a great swim workout on Thursday. I've done a main set of 10x200's on 3:00 a few times this year but I wanted to see if I could do 20 of them which would take me exactly 1 hour for the set. I hit the first 18 all in 2:49 or 2:50 and then swam 2:46 on the last 2. I'm seeing nice improvements in my swim. A year ago I was doing a main set of maybe 6 200's on 3:00 and I would start at 2:42 and then go 2:45, 2:48, 2:52, 2:55, and barely make the last one. This year I'm finding that my top end speed isn't much different but I'm able to maintain a pace for long sets without my stroke falling apart. Much of this is due to the coaching I've received from Stacey Zapolski and Tara Christensen. They have taught me to swim much more efficiently and I could not have completed a set like I did on Thursday without their help. I'm swimming much more this year than in the past years with a hope that it will help me get out of the water with more riders in the pro races in 2012. We had our monthly swim clinic yesterday and it was another record breaking attendance as we had about 5 new members to the clinic. It is so much fun for me to watch these guys improve as much as they are each month when we meet. I'll keep posting when we have the clinics and if you want to come just show up. We are having a lot of fun learning from Stacey and Tara. This week they brought in a 3rd coach to help since the clinic has grown so much. The 3rd coach is Lisa Lammers who swam collegiately at the University of Iowa.
My best workout of the week came on Saturday when Jen and I drove to Clinton, Iowa to race a 4 mile event called the B-rrry Scurry. I had done a solid 3,700 yard swim workout in the morning and got home just in time to get my running clothes and head out. My older brother Justin rode with us to the race along with Payton and Owen. This race is extremely well run. For $25.00 you get a nice long sleeve dri-fit shirt and they have a great post race party, as well as complimentary childcare that we take advantage of. They also give free entries to former champions and Jen and I both won last year so we were privilaged to get those. Last year I ran the first 2 miles at tempo effort and then raced the last 2 as hard as I could. I think I went through 2 miles last year in 11:26 and then ran 10:18 on the last 2 for a total time of 21:44. This year I planned to race from the gun. After my warm up I found Jen and Owen was not having it in the daycare. He is suffering from a crazy bout of separation anxiety right now. Jen had him in the stroller. I offered to push Owen knowing this was a hard workout and I would still run as hard as I could with the stroller but my chances of placing high would be thrown out the window. Jen said she wanted to push him so I let her have the honors. I told her when I finished I would not stop...I would run backwards until I met up with her to take Owen for her finish.
RACE: When the gun sounded I took off and within a 1/2 mile I was settled into 5th place. There were 2 guys about 5 seconds up the road and I was in a group of 3. We went through the mile mark in 5:20. During the 2nd mile I bridged the group up to the front 2 runners and we hit the 1/2 way point all together in 10:44 (5:24 2nd mile). In the 3rd mile I took the lead and tried to separate the group a bit. I worked hard but I could hear everyone right behind me. I was not getting rid of anyone. I could hear them so close it sounded like I had 15 people running behind me. At the 3 mile mark we were 16:00 for a 5:16 split and we were still a solid group of 5 that you could throw a blanket over. I could feel things beginning to get faster and I soon found myself in 5th out of that pack of 5. With a 1/2 mile to go one guy, Tyler Sullivan from Iowa City was starting to gap the rest of us and I realized it was not going to be a win. Part of me wanted to wait for Jen because when I saw her at the turnaround she was about 10 seconds behind the women's leader despite pushing Owen in the stroller. I thought 1 win for the Paul's would be better than 0. I knew my time was much faster than I ever anticipated I would be running at this point in the year so I forced myself to dig down a bit and I moved up from 5th to 3rd with 600 meters remaining. In the last 400 I found myself about 3 seconds behind 2nd place and I waited patiently until the last 100 meters when I changed gears to a full sprint and was able to make the pass just before the finish line. My final time was 21:13 (5:13 on the last mile). I immediately turned around as promised and never stopped running. I did slow down to 6:00 pace until I saw Jen about 600 meters from the finish. She was now winning and said she would finish with Owen. She won the race not only pushing a stroller but she was also wearing a cupid costume with wings on that her friend Stephanie made for her. Last year they won the costume competition and this year they wore costumes again even though there was no special costume division this year. That is Jen's first win of the year and her achilles is feeling great so I'm really excited to watch her race well in 2012. We are planning to venture outside the QC to find her some highly competitive races this year. I was thrilled to run 21:13 already this year. I would have been happy with that time 8 weeks from now. I never thought I would be running like this already. What has me most excited is that I'm still 10 lbs. from my lowest race weight of last year and it shows in my stomach. Knowing I am racing this fast while carrying extra dead weight that won't be there in a few months has me tremendously excited for the things to come. I know this is a sport that rewards longevity. The training done year in and year out takes time for the body to adapt to. My hope is that the training I've done the past 3 years will continue to build me into better shape for the upcoming year. It was also super fun watching how much faster my brother Justin has gotten. Justin ran 32:24 for the 4 miles. Last year in his 5K's he was running 29:00. He has gone from over 9:30 pace for 3 miles down to 8:06 pace for 4 miles. He has also lost about 30 lbs. Those are the kind of improvements Live Uncommon aims to inspire. Justin is certainly Living Uncommon. Speaking of Live Uncommon they have put up a couple really cool videos on the website detailing the plans for 2012. Check them out at www.liveuncommon.org and join the movement!
This week I'll ramp this back up and hope to have a week similar to the one I had 2 weeks ago as I begin this next block of training. By the end of the next 4 weeks I should be putting in some pretty big volume. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!